How Mountain Lion Hunting Can Affect Mule Deer Populations

By Cody J – B.O.C. April 12th 2019

Don Johnson / Getty Images

I came across this fantastic read from a friend Josh’s blog
( ) He cites a study & how they found that cats depending on their age eat different sizes of prey.

From The Jaguar:

The age of a puma strongly predicted its preferred prey. From ~12-20 months old, pumas typically hunted small animals like porcupines. The cats then began to target deer, and started incorporating elk (Cervis canadensis) into their diets around 40 months (3.3 years) of age. After that, the studied pumas increasingly specialized on elk as they grew older (Elbroch & Quigley, 2019).

This makes sense, the more mature the lion the larger the prey they are able to eat. Which seems obvious. Now this is where it gets interesting.

When people hunt pumas, they usually prefer the oldest and most impressive individuals. Thus, high levels of hunting could skew puma populations so that there’s an overabundance of younger cats on the landscape – who primarily eat deer.

If the majority of hunters are continuously targeting the old mature Pumas that don’t prey on mule deer and not the younger pumas. With the overabundance of younger lions they are able to target more mule deer.

Thanks to severe droughts and habitat loss, mule deer are declining in the Rocky Mountains (Koshmrl, 2019). People have long believed that killing pumas can bolster mule deer populations, even though this is not supported by science.

More studies & testing is required. Whether or not high levels of mountain lion hunting can affect mule deer traumatically, but it is something to consider, the possibility is there.

The top states for record mule deer are Colorado, Utah and Idaho. (Shutterstock / Cornelius Doppes photo)
Shutterstock / Cornelius Doppes photo

The link below contains the full article which is a must read.

Josh is a great blogger and his website is super informational with all different types of cats. I highly recommend checking it out.



  1. Wow Cody, did you update your blog when I wasn’t looking? I love your new layout!

    Also, thanks for sharing my post! I must add that we need more testing, preferably in the form of actual experiments, to see whether or not high levels of mountain lion hunting can harm mule deer populations – but the possibility is there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! I’m still figuring out this blog and how to customize it. Still learning but very much enjoying it.
    Of course, I find your posts very interesting. I will make an amendment.


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